Amazon has long claimed that its Prime Video video streaming service aids the shopping app’s sales. Now, the e-commerce behemoth is testing what happens when a video streaming service is integrated into its shopping app. The e-commerce giant launched MiniTV, an ad-supported video streaming service that is “completely free,” within the Amazon India app. MiniTV is currently only available in India, according to Amazon.
According to Amazon, MiniTV will debut with web series, comedy shows, and content related to tech news, food, beauty, and fashion. TVF and Pocket Aces, two of India’s largest web studios, created some of the currently available titles, while comedians like Ashish Chanchlani, Amit Bhadana, Round2Hell, Prajakta Koli, Shruti Arjun Anand, Elvish Yadav, Harsh Beniwal, Swagger Sharma, Aakash Gupta, and Nishant Tanwar provided others.
According to a review, much of MiniTV’s content is outdated, with some of it developed for other platforms or published on content partners’ own YouTube channels. Aspirants, for example, is a TVF show co-produced with Unacademy, an online learning education startup.
“Technology expert Trakin Tech, as well as fashion and beauty experts Sejal Kumar, Malvika Sitlani, Jovita George, Prerna Chhabra, and ShivShakti, will provide viewers with the most up-to-date information on the latest products and trends. Food is featured in Kabita’s Kitchen, Cook with Nisha, and Gobble. In the coming months, MiniTV will add many more new and exclusive videos,” the company said, without revealing its future roadmap plans. (Amazon quietly began incorporating reviews and other web clippings from media houses on its Indian shopping service more than two years ago.)
MiniTV is currently available on Amazon’s Android app and will be available on iOS and the mobile web in the coming months, according to Amazon.
Amazon’s move follows Walmart’s Flipkart, Amazon’s main Indian competitor, which launched a video streaming service within its app in 2019. Several Indian companies, including Zomato and Paytm, have experimented with adding video to their own apps in recent years.
Amazon has also aggressively pushed to expand its Prime Video offerings in India in recent quarters.
The company has secured rights to stream some cricket matches in India, having recently partnered with Indian telecom network Airtel to launch a new monthly mobile-only, single-user, standard definition (SD) tier (for $1.22). In India, Amazon also includes Prime Video as part of its Amazon Prime subscription. The annual subscription costs 999 Indian rupees ($13.6) and includes access to Amazon Music as well as faster delivery.
According to mobile insight firm App Annie, Prime Video had over 60 million monthly active users in India in April, surpassing Netflix’s 40 million (data of which an industry executive shared with TechCrunch). Netflix announced in March that it will invest “significantly more this year” in India, after spending $420 million on locally produced content in 2019 and 2020. Reed Hastings, the company’s founder, and co-CEO said in a recent earnings call that investment in India was more “speculative” than in other markets.
During the same time period, Times Internet’s MX Player, which also offers an ad-supported streaming service, had over 180 million users, while Disney+ Hotstar had around 120 million. In India, their biggest competitor is YouTube, which has over 450 million monthly active users.
Apart from the competition, video streaming services in India face another challenge. Amazon issued a rare apology to users in the South Asian nation in late March for an original political drama series over allegations that a few scenes in the series were racially insensitive.